Sugarberry tree discovery a sweet find for ODNR

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CINCINNATI — Sugarberry, Celtis laevigata, a large, broad, fast growing deciduous tree with a rounded vase crown of spreading, pendulous branches, has recently been found in the Chilo and Utopia areas in southeastern Clermont County.

It is Ohio’s first native tree species discovery in more than half a century.

ODNR Division of Forestry Private Lands Forester Brian Riley discovered the trees, which are closely related to the common hackberry.

What is it?

Sugarberry grows well in the rich, bottomland soils of the lower Ohio River Valley and can be found throughout the Mississippi River Valley and the southern United States.

In a given year, a mature tree can produce tens of thousands of red, pea-sized berries, Riley explained.

The berries remain on the tree into the late winter months. The fruits provide a valuable food source for migratory birds that fly up from more southern states each spring.

The last time

The last native tree species discovered in Ohio was Mexican plum in 1941, also found in Clermont County. Ohio is home to 149 species of native hardwood trees and nine species of softwood trees.

The Ohio wood industry generates over $15 billion annually.

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